In the weeks leading up to the annual New York City Marathon, we had our share of patients coming to Oak Point Health and Vitality Centre for the treatment of plantar fasciitis -- a condition that causes extreme discomfort under the foot, close to the heel.
This pain is typically worse in the morning but can also become unbearable throughout the day, especially for those with jobs that involve standing or wearing uncomfortable footwear. As you can imagine, plantar fasciitis is every runner’s worse nightmare, especially before a huge event like a marathon.
Many of those coming to us for treatment had already tried the conventional approaches, e.g. calf stretches, icing, massaging the bottom of the foot with a lacrosse ball, and strengthening exercises for the foot muscles. All of these sound great but can only offer temporary relief (at best).
At Oak Point, we take the holistic approach of addressing the issue globally and therefore helping our patients achieve long lasting results in a short amount of time. As one of our favorite professors used to say: "If you start at the area of pain, you are lost."
Translation: to address the pain, seek out its cause. Here’s how that would likely play out for a condition like plantar fasciitis.
- Treatment begins not at the foot but rather, with the spine and hips. If these areas are not aligned, the legs cannot move optimally and movement compensations will occur in the feet.
- After we align the spine and pelvis, full-body postural exercises and stretches are introduced to insure that the proper alignment we’ve obtained will actually stick. If so, your body will function more efficiently and eliminate any need for abnormal movement patterns.
- With the cause having been addressed, we next use Acupuncture and/or Orthopedic Massage Therapy to reduce the local inflammation at the site of pain.
- We also use heat -- yes, heat -- to speed up the healing process and loosen up tight tissues.
- Before a patient leaves, we of course apply Kinesio Tape to help decompress the area and facilitate the body’s natural healing process.
- We cap off our treatment protocol by educating our patients on the topic of footwear, for example: shoes they should stay away from and how to select the best footwear for their particular lifestyle and postural distortion patterns.
Written by Dimitri Boules LAc, LMT, CPE, CPT